TRANSPARENT TERRITORY – In his dizzying new series of maps for groundlessness, Gerhard Marx continues his investigations into the formal and fictive possibilities of perspective. Rupturing the flat surface of the map, he removes the illusion of solid ground and replaces it with a hovering, vertigo-inducing sense of uncertainty. The shape and notion of ‘the frame’ recurs in several mise-en-abymesequences across the works. Stacked in recurring configurations, its rectangular form has been bent into a series of optical riddles or Escherian landscapes.

When Marx cuts into the map it is a kind of violation – an act of violence against the institutions and processes of global modernity through which the world was filtered to him. That violence is present in the energy of dispersion, ruination and collapse that ripples through the fragmented surfaces of these works. But the story does not end with deconstruction. Offsetting it is the meditative, embodied practice of reconstitution. In constructing his drawings from the ‘found lines’ of decommissioned and discarded maps, Marx displaces the scientific authority of cartography with the subjective impulse of calligraphy.  
To some extent, his map drawings call to mind mounting tensions within South Africa in relation to the land – the pain of dispossession, rage due to the slow pace of redistribution, anxiety around the threat of violent land grabs – all bound up in a shifting network of inherited lines and limits that divide the land into territory, domain and jurisdiction. But the works in this series are not only constituted of South African maps. They are random amalgamations of fragments of Europe (many of the original maps referred to the First World War) and Africa, and in piecing them together he conflates space and historical time (some are recent maps, whereas some date back to the early 20th century) into what he thinks of as ‘migrant maps’. 

Directly referencing the the kind of makeshift, hybridised vessels we’ve witnessed people resorting to in the current migration crises of Europe, several of the works in this series have a raft-like look about them – temporary, floating, drifting between land(s) and territories. Hovering against a plane of deep opaque blackness, Marx’s reconstructed rafts/crafts transmit a sense of disorientation that is simultaneously disquieting and liberating. There is that vertiginous sci-fi sense of being cut loose from the mother ship to float indefinitely through all space and time, but also an ecstatic sense of possibility in being released from the grip of inherited systems of knowledge, measurement, power and control. – Alexandra Dodd









Plot, 2017
Cut and Reconstituted Map Fragments on Acrylic ground and canvass
180 x 140cm












Transparent (Layering), 2017
Cut and Reconstituted Map Fragments on Acrylic ground and canvass












Circumscription, 2017
Cut and Reconstituted Map fragments on canvas and acrylic ground
240 x180cm












Slippage, 2017
Cut and Reconstituted Map Fragments on Acrylic ground with canvass and wooden substrate
120 x 120cm












Transparent (Swivel), 2017
Cut and Reconstituted Map Fragments on Acrylic ground and canvass












Landslide, 2017
Cut and Reconstituted Map Fragments on Acrylic ground and canvass
180 x 140cm


































Reiteration (Transparent Territory), 2016
Cut and reconstituted map fragments and acrylic ground on canvas
180 x 120cm










 

A Small Escalating Refrain (Transparent Territory), 2016
Cut and reconstituted map fragments and acrylic ground on canvas
45 x 45cm











A Small Reiteration (Transparent Territory), 2016
Cut and reconstituted map fragments and acrylic ground on canvas
45 x 45cm










 

Transparent Territory, Perpetual Proximity, 2016
Cut and reconstituted map fragments and acrylic ground on canvas
100 x 100cm










 

Transparent Territory 2,  2016
Cut and reconstituted Map Fragments
70 x 70cm











Transparent Territory 3, 2016
Cut and reconstituted Map Fragments
70 x 70cm












Transparent Territory 1, 2016
Cut and reconstituted Map Fragments
85 x 85cm